Ramsey and District u3a Newsletter

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to you all, especially those visiting us today for the first time. 

Firstly, housekeeping notices: fire exits are marked and there is a defibrillator in the disabled toilet and a first aid kit in the kitchen.  Chairs and tables for those less-abled will be put out in the foyer for when you are having your tea and coffee.  Hand sanitisers are dotted around the rooms and we would ask that you make good use of them.  Face masks are no longer mandatory but please use them if you feel more comfortable with one.

Over the past three months, Ramsey & District has been requesting donations to buy trees to help create a U3A 40th Anniversary Woodland to be located on the England/Wales border in the Brecon Beacons National Park.  Thank you to those who have already donated.  Three activity groups purchased trees on their own behalf and if you would like to contribute a collection box is in the foyer.  Trees will be purchased and I will advise you how many next month.  Please consider giving this your support.

We received a special thank you from last month’s speaker, Charlotte Griggs from the East Anglian Children’s Hospice.  Although she didn’t have a large audience, a collection of £73 was donated by members together with our contribution of £60 for the EACH charity.

Our meeting in June will be to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and we will be holding an Indoor Street Party with food, entertainment, quizzes and more.  It will be a chance to dress up in your red, white and blue and enjoy yourselves.  Unfortunately, we are limited to 80 members so it will be a ticket only meeting.  Tickets are available today in the foyer at £7 per member.  Some members have already volunteered to bake Platinum Puddings for the event but if anyone else can help, please let me know.  The more bakers we have the less we each have to bake.

A very successful Meet and Greet took place last month for new members when they had the chance to chat to group leaders and committee members. Items were on display to give members an idea of what happens at the different groups.  New members have signed up and I hope they will enjoy learning, living and laughing, and making new friends.  We have also had members volunteering to run groups so it is good to see this area of our u3a flourishing. However, our u3a cannot exist by groups alone and the committee are looking for new members, specifically for a secretary and treasurer.  It is a legal requirement that these officer roles are filled so please think hard about volunteering to come on the committee.  If you have the basic skills and ability to use a computer and would like to help run your u3a, please speak to a committee member.  We will even teach you if necessary but your u3a needs you and you will be made most welcome.  Remember, skills learnt during your second age can benefit our third age. A reminder that annual subs are due from the 1st April and will be £17 per member, with associate members paying £8.50.  The preferred method of paying, now we don’t have a bank in Ramsey, is by bank transfer and details are available from Bruce or on the website.  However, if you prefer to pay by cheque or cash, you can do so today or at the April meeting.  Membership cards will no longer be issued unless specially requested. The monthly meeting fee from next month will be £2 and visitors £3. 

Travel update: 

Our first day trip will be on Thursday 19th May when we will be visiting Landguard Fort and the delightful seaside town of Felixstowe.  The Fort defends the approach to Harwich Harbour and was manned through both world wars.  Discover the rich military and maritime heritage exploring the maze of rooms and passageways or climb up to the Harwich Bastion for splendid views across the Container Port of Felixstowe.  If the Fort isn’t your thing, there is a large nature reserve with the opportunity of some wonderful bird watching.  We will then go into Felixstowe to visit the Beach Street Shopping Containers Complex for fashion, arts, crafts and street food or walk along the promenade and visit the Edwardian pier before we return home at 4.30.  The cost for the coach is £25 per person and entrance to the Fort is £6.30.  If you are interested, please put your name on the sign-up sheet in the foyer and we will collect the £25 at next month’s meeting.

A visit to Hampton Court Palace is on Wednesday 13th July.  The price is £40 per person including admission and a sign-up sheet is in the foyer.  Deposits will be collected next month.

A sign-up sheet for the Thursford Christmas Spectacular is in the foyer and we have 15 places available on the Dews Coach for Tuesday 6th December.   The cost is £65 per person and the coach will pick up at the Ramsey Clock.  Full payment will need to be paid direct to Dews.  This is available to members and friends.

There is also a sign-up sheet for an Amazon Distribution Warehouse tour in Peterborough.  If you are interested, please put your name down and if there is sufficient support, we will look at arranging a date in the future.

Our first holiday is to Ireland and a reminder for those in the party that the balance is due by the 18th April.

We have confirmation of an exciting holiday to Picturesque Portmerion and Scenic Snowdonia from Monday 26th to Friday 30th September.  This looks a wonderful holiday staying in the Chatsworth House Hotel on Llandudno promenade.  Included in the price of just £539 per person (£40 single supplement) is travel by coach, bed, breakfast and evening dinner, trips to the Island of Anglesey to see the Plas Newydd and Plas Cadnant Hidden Gardens; time to explore Caenarfon before a journey across the Llanberis Pass before joining the Snowdon Mountain Railway.  A visit to the Italianate village of Portmerion after a steam-hauled journey on the Welsh Highland Railway, with a final stop at the Inigo Jones Slate Workshop and the opportunity to buy locally-crafted gifts.  Why not come and join the party.  We have fun, sweets and quizzes on the coach and lots more.  Further details are in the foyer along with a sign-up sheet or speak to a member of the Travel Committee for further details .We hope members will support the day trips and holidays as a lot of work goes into finding interesting places to visit.  Please remember that you have to be a fully paid up member of u3a to go on the day trips but family and friends can join the holidays providing there are spaces available.

The Group Co-ordinator, Maureen, the spoke on how good it was to see new members at the ‘Meet and greet’ session. There is still room for members to join the Metal Detecting Group and to show interest in joining the Climate Change Group. We are hoping to restart the mixed craft group as two members have come forward to host this group. A suggestion has been made to start a jigsaw puzzle swap group; we are working out how this can happen. Please keep looking at the information board as there is plenty to see.

It is now my pleasure to introduce our speaker for today, Richard Hyde MBE, a face many of you will know, but the history of the family business will be new to lots of you and is a fascinating insight into Ramsey’s history.

Richard opened his talk with a photo of his predecedents standing outside G.B.Hyde and Son’s shop  in the 1876’s. Richard had been doing many talks on-line during the pandemic to Rotary clubs, but he said it was really nice to talk to a large audience such as the u3a.

Hyde’s was a small retail business on the High Street in Ramsey and was typical of those found in small market towns throughout the country. The family of nine originally came from Peterborough. The coming of the railway brought growth to the town and the photo showed that lots of things were for sale, including boots, shoes, handbags, hoops, perambulators and chairs. Profits were good, so the shop next door was purchased and used as a showroom, it was close to the Post Office and in a good position on the street.

At the rear of the premises, was the family home, the business was run from there. Upstairs was the living room, party room. Offices were downstairs as was the paraffin store. Great grandfather George had a keen eye for the ladies and was married three times, a keen horseman, his horses pulled the cart in which he used to collect rags and bones. He wanted to go to Peterborough on business, riding a very fretful horse which wouldn’t behave, so he caught the train from Ramsey north station and succumbed to what is thought to be a heart attack.

Grandfather George, who looked like Alf Garnet, used a horse drawn van to deliver around the Fens, his routes became a daily routine. He got on well with his customers and was invited to visit homes for a cup of tea or something stronger. In the 1920’s he went into the buying and selling of motor vehicles.

Father George was involved in the town chamber of trade and started to sell clothes. Richard always remembers that Freda in accounts could count pounds, shillings and pence backwards faster than he could count forwards. The family were staunch Methodists, one day they had a fellow in the shop who was trying to explain about VAT, George senior couldn’t make head or tail of the conversation so told the fellow that he didn’t want to join. Decimalization was another problem that couldn’t be fathomed! The most dangerous event was a fire in the shop, Richard was out on a delivery, in Sawtry, when a resident told him that there was a fire on the High Street Ramsey and lots of fire engines were attending so Richard rushed home, to find it was his own premises. The staff were evacuated safely, but a gas bottle had exploded. The fire had been started by an electrical fault when a recently delivered mattress had been pushed against a heater.

Richard said that he misses the shop, especially at Christmas. They were presented with an award, which was handed over by the local MP, John Major. The title of his talk, ’The Brown ‘Un’ came from a three-piece suite which was on display in the showroom, it had velour cushions, a leather back and rexine on the arms and sides.

Business was special, Cambridge radio came and recorded the story of Hyde’s. When the shop closed, artifacts were donated to the Ramsey Rural Museum and is well worth a look. Questions from the floor:

Are the family still in Ramsey? Yes, now I am the Rotary Father Christmas

Gammons v Hyde’s? Healthy competition, but we help each other out should the need arise.

Jane then thanked Richard for a most interesting history of the shop and Ramsey and we broke for tea and biscuits. A big thank you to all who donated tins of tomatoes and tuna for the Ukraine appeal organized by Terry and Enid.

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Next Meeting

 Our Annual General meeting will take place on Tuesday 12th April at the Community Centre, Stocking Fen Road, Ramsey, starting at 2.00pm. As well as the formal business of the AGM next month, we are delighted to also welcome Ken Davies as our speaker, who will talk to us on the Return of the Osprey.  This is the story of the Osprey’s return to England, following an ambitious and ground-breaking scheme, based at Rutland Water in Central England.

And Finally

Car Parking – Please remember to park your car considerately and use car sharing if you are able.

No Jokes

This is my last newsletter, as I am no longer able to serve on the u3a committee, (time expired). I have been involved with theU3a since it started in Ramsey, as a member of the steering committee and committee member for several years. It has been a privilege to know you and serve you. This is not farewell but adieu. Mike